There are many people in this world who in my opinion ought to be banned from owning any form of instrument with the ability to take photographs or failing that, have their eyes gouged out with red-hot pokers. The result would be the same. The following are the reasons for my ire.
As I've been researching railways and historical industrial architecture recently, I have been unable to use many photographs as they have been zealously protected by their creators or in many cases, the people entrusted with the collections upon the original photographer's death.
Photographs are generally protected by copyright as artistic works. In the UK, copyright automatically comes into being when a qualifying work is created; there is no formal registration. The term of protection for most copyright material is the life of the creator, plus 70 years from the date of their death.
The above paragraph is from the UK government's Intellectual Property Office's official blog.
I have issue with people having intellectual property at all. It would be nice in a future utopian world where everyone was sharing everything towards a common good for all humankind, but this isn't Star Trek Next Generation, we're all still selfish fuckers.
The part I really take umbrage with, is with the definition of art and a lot of the other complete bollocks in the rest of this Governmental blog post.
A picture of train or a railways station is NOT generally art. Its just a snap of a train or a station. The people who take these shots are generally not aiming to create a piece of art but are with, or without intention, creating historical records.
Let's have a look at a picture I took at York Railway Station
In theory, anyone who used this photo in a publication would be breaking copyright laws. It's a work of art says the government. Work of art my arse. It's some bloke reinforcing his memory with pictorial evidence. If this picture turned up in a publication, I wouldn't have a problem. I would be proud! It would be good manners if it were credited but having legal recourse?
Hang on though, creator?
Yes, creator of the photograph, the person who pressed the shutter. But what about the copyright of the person who designed the station? Or the person who designed that rather natty blue coat? What if people don't want to be photographed in a public place? What if British Railways didn't want me to take a photo of their beautiful station?
The point is. The person who pressed the shutter created an image that has frozen an instant of time at a specific location. It's a record. It's NOT FUCKING ART!
The real creators here are the people I mentioned above. They are the creators the artisans and in this case, have zero recourse against the grumpy old bastard who took this photo and posted it on an immutable blockchain. To wit. ME!
So, let's get back to history.
I write a post on Sunday about Pontefract Baghill Railways station but in researching, I came across many old photos that would have been superb illustrations of the story but which their use would have left me on slightly stoney ground but for the sake of creating examples for this post, I shall now take a few tentative steps onto those jagged and controversial rocks.
It's quite clear that this is an alamy.com stock photo and if I had wanted to use it my post, to stay legal, I would have had to pay them $49.00.
Alamy have been entrusted to act as an agent of a photographic archive to sell the right to use this photograph. There is something I can't understand here. The photograph was taken, as stated, in the early 20th century, which was over one hundred years ago, but yet, copyright law only applies for 70 years. How the hell does that work?
The really annoying thing though is that this is the only photo I can find online of that part of the station and without it, there might be no genuine record of it ever existing. For me, that should make it public domain. Anyone with an interest should be able to have a copy, not to earn money from but as public record to be shared. This however leads us onto another elephant in the room.
When we post, we earn...
My answer to this is that we earn crypto but as government's fail to recognise it as a genuine form of 'money', it doesn't apply.
Of course, it's not just huge corporations like Alamy and Getty that try and make money out of snapshots.
Quite a while back, I created two communities here for British Railways and Railway modelling and then went through all the related groups on Facebook of which I am a member in an attempt to populate these communities. What a nightmare. A more anally retentive group of sad muppets it would not be possible to meet. The most common question was: what if someone steals my photos?
FFS, it's a train. you dint design it or build it, you don't own it, neither do you contribute to the rails it runs on or the station it stops at. You didn't build or pay for the footpath you stood on to take the photo so what in God's name makes you think the snap you took could have any monetary value to yourself? The thing is, those that scream the loudest have no idea about 'property release' which is similar to a release clause people sign allowing their image to be used!
Here's an example of the small-minded muppetry I'm talking about.
Copyright again! Or the ones who put their names on photos....
It I decide it's not art and wish to use it. I will. I always attribute the creator and the source, and I use photos for illustrative purposes only and never use other's photos to form the basis of a post.
I believe I take a common sense approach and as always, intent of use is all important..
History matters and without dwelling in it or being sentimental, the world learns lessons based on the past and historical reference should be in the public domain.